Showing posts with label east Los angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label east Los angeles. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Eastside of Food Events: East LA Meets Napa

One Friday evening, Union Station is transformed into a food and wine mecca. In its fourth year, East L.A. Meets Napa event, hosted by Altamed, gathered more than 1000 people on July 10 to taste the food of more than 40 Latino restaurants around town and the wines (and tequila) by Latino wineries or winemakers throughout the state.

Some of the notable participating wineries include Sequoia Grove, J. Lohr, Cobblestone Vineyards, El Centauro del Norte, and many many more.

With plenty of food to sample, I did not manage to try everything. The restaurants everyone seemed to enjoy but I missed included Cook's Tortas, Birrieria Chalio, and Moles La Tia, but here are some of the highlights for me:

Chicken tamale with black mole from Guelaguetza.
Mole from Guelaguetza - a staple of LA. There's a reason they are popular. Here they serve up delicious chicken tamales with their sweet mole and fragrant rice.

Florales Tortillas with shrimp salsa from Rivera
One of Rivera's signatures - housemade nixtamal tortillas that are crispy and gorgeous to look at at the same time.

Chiles en Nogada from La Casita Mexicana
This was better in the larger version you get at the actual restaurant due to the ratio, but still enjoyable with the sweet walnut sauce.

Castillas de Puerco en Chile Negro from Teresita
Very tender and flavorful. This was a find I would not have known were it not for this event! It's really for these lesser-known places that these food events are so great for - an exposure to over 1000 people.

There were some unique desserts to be found also, including this handmade 3-D jello from Attila the Flan.
(That just looks so cool!)

Chocolate dipped jalapenos from D's Delights
I did actually try a bite - spicy! Not for me, not for me. But fun nonetheless.

I unfortunately had to run out of there after an hour to make it to my Andrew Bird concert, but in that one hour I had a lot of great food, great wines, and met many of my foodie friends including Mattatouille, LA&OC Foodie, Food She Thought, Wandering Chopsticks, FoodGPS, and Choisauce.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

La Casita Mexicana: Authentic Mexican Food 102

La Casita Mexicana was an eye opener. Thanks to Teenage Glutster, I was included in the dinner that the two chefs of La Casita, Jaime and Ramiro, had planned for a number of bloggers. We were joined by Pepsi Monster, Food Marathon, Food GPS, Pleasure Palate and other members of her dining group, Oishii Eats, Eat Drink & Be Merry, Professor Salt and Will from FoodDigger.

Jaime and Ramiro's mission is to educate Americans about Mexican food. Authentic Mexican food. And no, it's not just tacos and burritos and quesadillas. This city has at least seen some mole, but there are so much that we have not really been exposed to, as this meal will attest to!

Jaime and Ramiro set up a table filled with the various ingredients they will be using that night, including numerous varieties of beans and chiles!

The night started with some refreshing drinks: Aguas Frescas of Alfalfa and lemonade with chia seeds
I really loved the alfalfa agua fresca. I thought that it might be too herby at first, but after tasting it, it really wasn't and it was nicely refreshing. The Mexican alfalfa sprouts are different than the ones we normally see here as the leaves are bigger and the stems green. Not sure how it would taste if I try to make it with regular alfalfa ...

White fish soup with hoja santa.
It's been a while since I've encountered hoja santa in the US. Nicely spiced soup (some said it is reminiscent of tom yum soup) and the fish is moist and tender.

Chile Relleno (Pickled jalapenos with tuna filling)
Although I've had stuffed peppers before I've never had one filled with tuna.

Queso Azteca: a blend of 4 cheeses, mushrooms and cactus strips.
Definitely my favorite, and perhaps also most interesting dish, of the night. Full of flavors, especially with the mushrooms and slightly spicy cactus strips, and had a very interesting texture.

Enchiladas in 3 moles(a la bandera)in the colors of the Mexican (the menu said chicken but I was pretty sure they were filled with tuna ... anyway, not the point. The point is the mole sauce!)
The 3 different mole sauces: poblano, pepiano verde, and pepiano rojo. My favorite: The pepiano verde. I think. Hmm. They were all so good.

Tamalitos de huitlacoche (Corn Fungus Tamales)
Corn fungus eh? As Michael Pollan pointed out, we Americans loove our corn (too much even!). And apparently corn fungus is a delicacy and quite expensive in Mexico. This gave the tamales a nice earthy flavor.

Cotija cheese enchiladas from Michoacan in the recipe of Ramiro’s grandmother
This simple dish was delightfully delicious. Apparently they lightly dip the tortillas in hot oil and then chile. The chile flavor was perfect for the dry, crumbly Cotija cheese. Be careful, this is like one of those addicting snacks ... If 15 or so more courses weren't on the way and I wasn't sharing with 4 other people, might've kept eating this.

Cochinita pibil with cebollas escabeche(Pork roasted in plantain leaves with pickled onions)
I tried the seemingly harmless "pickled onions" and man these onions are packed with heat!!! I downed my agua fresca + FoodMarathon's glass of water + another glass of water and was still dying! (I have looow tolerance to spicy foods)

Pollo en mole blanco: white mole sauce with dried fruits and white chocolate over chicken
The first time I've had white mole! I didn't know they use white chocolate also.

Pork almendrado (Pork in almond sauce)

Cecina with chile japonese : thinly sliced beef cookd with a very hot chile.
Reminiscent of a beef jerky, this is full of flavor and slightly spicy.

Bacalao with tamarind sauce

Puerco adobado(pork in a spicy red sauce)

Chile en Nogada (Chiles in Walnut sauce) - a specialty of Puebla.
According to Cecilia Fabulich, this dish is apparently typically served around Christmas time(?). The colors are again those of the Mexican flag, but also rather Christmas-y, aren't they? An interesting and almost dessert-y dish due to the creamy walnut sauce.

Churros with sweet cajeta (caramel) filling
Nice crunchy churros, and the caramel filling was not overly sweet. This blows any of those Disneyland churros out of the water.

Mexican chocolate paste with crystallized grapefruit.
Chunky, rich, and slightly spiced mexican chocolate paste. Perfect with the candied grapefruits.

Flan de castilla
To end the night was this giant sheet of flan, too much for 20 people, especially at the end of the 17/18- course meal! Apparently they also had the zucchini flan floating around. I guess I was too full to catch and grab it.

Thank you Teenage Glutster for including me in this amazing meal, and especially to chefs Jaime and Ramiro who had put so much care into everything. The best Mexican meal I've had, by far.

La Casita Mexicana
4030 Gage Ave
Bell, CA 90201
(323) 773-1898

Read OishiiEats' review here and Teenage Glutster's here.

La Casita Mexicana on Urbanspoon

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